For your baby’s first dental appointment, you might have some questions—like which dentist to bring them to. And with the many specializations in the field, you might have a hard time choosing. Fortunately, when choosing a dentist for younger children, you don’t need to whittle away at the different -ists. You only really have two options: the family dentist and the pediatric dentist.
But wait! Can’t a family dentist do the things a pediatric dentist does? If they provide services for the whole family, then facilities for children should already be part of the package. Well, yes and no. While family dentists can check and treat your young ones, pediatric dentists go through years of extra training. You bring your child to a pediatric doctor because they specialize in children’s health. Parents bring their kids to a pediatric dentist because they specialize in children’s teeth.
In addition to specializing in little teeth, they also know how to manage children’s anxiety and communicate in simpler terms that children can understand. The outcome are comfortable, enjoyable experiences.
Is there a pediatric dentist age limit?
Because children’s dentists specialize in… well, children, it follows that there’s an age limit. Most people agree that the threshold for pediatric care is age 18. This doesn’t mean pediatric dentists can’t treat you once you turn 18, though. After all, they take the same general subjects most dentists do in dental school. But if you keep taking your kids to the local kid’s dentist when they’re in their mid-20s, you just might want to consider an upgrade. Just a bit.
Is breastfeeding good for my child’s teeth?
“Breast is best” is a litany you’ve probably heard thousands of times. Especially if you’re a new mom, and they aren’t wrong—breast milk does have all the right nutrients and antibodies your baby needs to grow. But is it any good for your baby’s teeth? Why, yes, it is. (The American Dental Association seems to agree.) Aside from preventing all that icky bacterial build-up, breastfeeding can help your kids get a better bite and reduce the need to wean. Sign us up!
What should I do if my child has sore gums?
Nobody likes sore gums, especially kids. When your little angel suddenly is wailing nonstop, what can you do to stop it? A lot, fortunately. And it starts by checking their dental care. Gum soreness usually dies down after regular sessions of oral cleansing. If it doesn’t, however, there’s no harm in scheduling a meeting with the kids’ dentist near you. They’re bound to get your kid back on track in no time.
What Should I Do if My Baby Starts Teething?
The timeline is unique for all children, but typically a baby starts teething between as early as six months. Some children get their teeth in much later, while others may already have them once born. These natal teeth get their name from when they form— they develop under the gums while your child is in the womb.
Once your child begins to teethe, that’s a sign to start up their dental hygiene routine. The first step starts with the doctor’s visit: aside from looking at your baby’s other vital signs, your pediatrician can check the gums and growing teeth for any signs of decay or disease. If there is, they might be referred to a dentist to have them checked and fixed. If not, this screening can continue until your child is three years old.
Keep their teeth and gums clean to massage their gums with a clean finger and wiping them with a soft, moist cloth after eating and before sleepy time.
What if my child has teething pain?
Pain is, unfortunately, something that always comes with the teething process, but there are ways to keep it on the down-low. As long as your child doesn’t show abnormal symptoms (high fever, diarrhea, or congestion), the best thing to do is to wait it out until all their teeth set in. In the meantime, here are 5 essential teething tips for your baby:
Keep your baby’s gums cool to aid with the pain. Do not give your baby frozen objects since the extreme cold can be damaging, especially to babies that do not know the harm frozen items possess when directly placed anywhere on the body for long periods.
However, giving your baby a cold washrag to chew on, a cold chew toy, or cold food products can significantly help teething babies temporarily numb their pain.
Opt for over-the-counter pain medicines or homeopathic remedies. OTC medicines are recommended. Homeopathic remedies may also be safe and helpful for your teething child. If you are unsure what to give your baby that is safe, it’s always best to speak with a professional. Typically, over-the-counter products designed for babies are likely to be safe and pose little to no harm to your child.
Allow your baby to chew on something. Chewing on a teething ring, a cloth, a clean blanket, or a hard toy are ideal for teething babies. It allows pressure to be applied to the aching areas to relieve the pain and distracts babies from the discomfort.
Apply pressure to your baby’s gums by rubbing them to relieve the pain. Another way to ensure your baby receives pressure on the painful areas of the mouth is to rub your baby’s gums with a clean, wet washcloth. The pressure applied and the washcloth’s wetness will greatly help reduce the pain your baby is feeling.
Do NOT rub alcohol on your baby’s gums. Because of the harm of alcohol for babies, it’s best to stay away from alcohol for soothing your baby’s teething pain. There are many safe ways to relieve your baby’s teething pain, but this is not an ideal one. Resort to remedies that pose little to no risk to your young child.
How often should your child see their pediatric dentist?
With the benefits a regular check-up can offer, how many times should your child take a trip to the dentist, then? Twice a year, sans the emergency consultations. This time frame usually allows your pediatric dentist to monitor any developments that have occurred throughout the year.
Some parents might wonder if it’s still necessary to take their child to the dentist despite having healthy teeth. You should take them all the more. If your child’s teeth look relatively healthy, taking them to the dentist is a considerable preventive measure. It’s during these appointments where they perform the necessary cleanings and treatments that kick your child’s teeth into gear to fight against decay. Such measures may include gentle dental scaling, fluoride varnish, and sealant application. If the pediatric dentist also finds any signs of decay or oral problems during the examination, they can also treat it during the initial stages. Here are a couple of more reasons why:
- To check the state of their oral health
When it comes to the first dental appointment, dental professionals recommend having them checked once their first tooth erupts. At this age, your child might have attained the streptococcus mutans bacteria responsible for tooth decay from their parents. Without proper monitoring, these bacteria could proliferate and deteriorate the developing tooth before your child’s permanent tooth sets in. And the most severe stage of decay often leads to premature tooth loss, which has its own set of complications.Having that first appointment early, then, gives your child the preventive edge. And with a follow-up check-up every six months, your child can continue to have this advantage well until they get their permanent teeth.
- To assess their oral habits
When your child keeps to their regular dentist visits, they don’t just have their teeth screened. Their pediatric dentist may also delve into their dental history to ascertain whether their dental habits help or harm their oral health.With a visit every six months, the pediatric dentist can easily see if there have been any improvements since the last visit. The six-month duration here is quite important, as it allows for any hygiene habits that have formed over that course.
During the appointment, your child’s pediatric dentist may ask questions about their hygiene and eating habits. They do this to see whether they contributed to the state of their oral health. If the contribution is negative, your child’s dentist may prescribe some lifestyle changes to bring them back on the right track. These corrections might even include a free toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed to delight your little one.
- To evaluate the need for early intervention
Sometimes, your child’s dentist might find that your kid is at risk of specific oral ailments. During the appointment, they can easily schedule another visit to correct the problem. Severe dental issues often grow more dangerous the more you let them be. Similarly, the earlier you stop the problem, the better chances your child will fare as they grow into adulthood.But prevention doesn’t just stop at treating the disease. Your child’s pediatric dentist can also prescribe a course of action your kid could take to prevent similar instances from happening again.